45 – Kick FOMO to the Curb


Episode Overview:

We’ve reached the fifth and final episode in Ken’s Money & Marriage Series. The last component of building this metaphorical house is the labor – having the mental fortitude to act on this financial plan. Ken discusses the need to stick it out your plan and how the Fear of Missing Out can challenge this fortitude. Ken elaborates how envy, instant gratification and FOMO can challenge your plan and what mental processes you should lean into in order to be successful.

Transcriptions are auto-generated, please excuse grammar/spelling!

Happy day to you. This is Ken Kaufman, and I’m thrilled you’re here for Episode #45, Kick FOMO to the Curb.

Now, as we jump into that topic, I need to just step back and remind you, this is the fifth episode in a five-part series on how to succeed with money in marriage. And as you’ll recall, we did an overview, and then we talked about, what is the foundation of succeeding in marriage with money. And we defined that as achieving alignment between spouses and dedicated an episode to that.

We then talked about what the blueprint is of building success in marriage with money, and we defined that as having a comprehensive financial plan. We then talked about, what are the building materials that go into building this house. Oh, sorry, the example or the metaphor here is building a house. You have your foundation, your blueprint, and then the materials are financial literacy around all of the key financial principles that make people successful with money, and especially in marriage.

And today, we’re going to hit the last component that goes into building that house, and it’s the labor. It’s all the work, the commitment, the emotional fortitude, the grit to stick with the plan, and then to iterate if something changes. If you’re building that house and you realize, “Oh, I wanted to do this instead of this,” it’s being willing and able to iterate the plan based on needs so that you can deliver exactly the product that you desired.

And in this case, it’s to succeed with our money in marriage through these four elements, the foundation, be in alignment with spouse, the blueprint is that comprehensive financial plan, the building materials are financial literacy, and applying the best uses of the financial principles that we exist in as we know them, and then this labor. So, let’s go ahead and jump into this labor, this hard work of committing to the plan.

Honestly, when I say hard work, it’s not like we’re out there pounding nails with a hammer or putting concrete forms together and tying rebar, or anything like that. This is a lot about our perspective. This is a lot about how we think. And actually, as my son, Daniel, did research around all of these topics, what he found, overwhelmingly, to be the case was that the place where people break down in this commitment and this ability to execute and have the emotional fortitude to execute on their plan and stay aligned as a couple is FOMO. It’s this concept of fear of missing out.

This is a mindset that you have to commit to. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how great your foundation is, your alignment, how great your plan is, how great you understand all these financial principles. If you do not have the grit and the emotional fortitude to stick it out, and to make it happen, and to execute, it will all, ultimately, fall apart.

So, you commit to the mindset. We have to accept the fact that our income is what it is and it’s only going to stretch so far, and that we need to force rank what is most important, what our priorities are, and we need to stick to that. And we need to recognize that consumption for the sake of consumption doesn’t make any sense. It has to be pushed off to bring your priorities up to the place that they need to be in your financial plan.

Now, one of the places where some research was done by my son is the book, “Your Money, Your Marriage,” and the authors actually devoted an entire chapter to this concept. Not to mention, in all of the interviews that my son did, he found this concept repeatedly mentioned with couples who struggled with succeeding in marriage with money, as well as those who did succeed. He found that they had this concept of delayed gratification and a willingness to not worry about missing out on something, but rather just being happy with what your plan was going to create for you.

This is a summary of what they wrote about. So, the authors expressed that we should learn to live in this world amongst the many happiness killers without letting them change us. These emotions, like envy, jealousy, and FOMO, result in destroying our gratitude and joy in life because we feel like we never have enough. We need to wake up and realize that the lives we lead are special, important, and valuable without all the extra stuff. Stuff does nothing for us besides a temporary high. Enduring happiness and joy is a choice.

And here’s a direct quote right out of the book. They said, “When you quit longing for someone else’s life, you find contentment in your own. When you quit longing for someone else’s marriage, you realize that what you have is so much better than you wanted and probably deserve.”

One other quote from Brené Brown. She wrote a book called “Rising Strong,” and she said this. “The fear of missing out is what happens when scarcity slams into shame. FOMO lures us out of our integrity with whispers about what we could or what we should be doing. FOMO’s favorite weapon is comparison. It kills gratitude and replaces it with ‘not enough’.” I put air-quotes around ‘not enough’.

Theodore Roosevelt is famous for saying this. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Now, let me give you a quick example of what I’m talking about and a specific application to me. In the year 2007, I needed a new vehicle because the one I had was really on its last leg and was about to die. In fact, it did actually die on the way to [inaudible 00:05:57], the place that I was selling it. But I’ll save that story for another time.

So, it’s 2007. I searched around and I found a used Ford F-150 truck that was a 2003. It had pretty low miles on it. It had one owner. It was an older gentleman that didn’t drive it a lot, kept it in his garage most of the time, so it was really in great condition from a utilization of it, as well as the interior, the exterior. Everything looked really good. So, went ahead and made that purchase. I am still driving that truck today. So, it’s a 2003, 17 years old. It’s 13 years old to me, and I’ve been driving it on and on.

Now, there have been a few times throughout the years when I’ve been tempted to make a change, and it was mostly because of FOMO. I really wanted, when the systems came out, like the navigation systems that were built into the dash. In 2003, by the way, that was not the case. I really thought, “Oh, I’d love to just have navigation built in, and then back-up cameras, and then the ability for the phone to connect to the speaker system in the vehicle through Bluetooth.”

That one was a gamechanger. That’s when I really wanted to do it because I found I would get calls when I was driving to work, or from work, or in other areas, and to drive hands-free, I needed to always have a good set of headphones on me because the truck is older, and loud, and kind of noisy. And so I needed to make sure that I could actually hear. And so, I always had to have a good set of headphones that I could listen to, and sometimes had to pull over to fish them out and put them in before I could take a call or continue on a phone call that was happening. And so, there were all these things and reasons, and then I looked at the Tesla come out. And when it came out, I thought, “Oh, wow, my truck, it’s a gas guzzler. Maybe I should think about that.”

So, over time, I’ve had these inklings. But at the end of the day, I just couldn’t pull the trigger on moving forward, to even get serious about buying something different. And I’m still in the same position today. Actually, I really like my truck. It’s got… We’re getting close to 200,000 miles on it now. I think I’m between 185,000 and 190,000 miles, and I’ve had to put money in it as we’ve gone along, wear and tear, nothing with the engine, but just all the other normal things, and shocks go out, and all of that.

Well, the reason I bring this story up is because I’ve felt that temptation of FOMO. But at the end of the day, the goals that my wife and I have had in our marriage have been far more important than always driving the nicest, newest vehicle. Now, for you, it might be the case. Driving the nicest, newest vehicle might be your biggest priority, and that’s great. You go do it, you knock it out, and make that happen for yourself. It’s just not a priority that we have felt needed to be very high, and we’ve been very aligned around that.

And so, generally, we’ve been buy used and run them into the ground until they literally don’t work anymore. And I’ve got a great story I’ll share sometime down the road about being 120 miles away from having graduated from graduate school and trying to limp our way through on the one car that we had and not quite making it. But that’ll be a story for another day.

So, that’s a personal application of FOMO and how you’ve got to set some of these other things aside that may be alluring or tempting for whatever your greatest priorities are. So, there it is. We want to kick that concept of FOMO to the curb, and we want to take control. And we don’t want to fall prey to comparison, to envy or jealousy. We just want to execute on our plan. This is hard. That’s why I called it the labor in the process of building a house. This takes a lot of emotional fortitude and strength and grit to push through, especially because we’ve got a long time to deal with here.

Now, another thing to do to help you commit to your plan and stay committed to your plan is just mechanize and automate as much of it as possible. Have that money coming straight out of your check into your 401(k). Have money automatically transferred from checking to savings. Automatically invest into your 529 plan for your kid’s college, if you do that, or your Roth RIA, or your HSA plan, or just fill in the blanks.

I’m, obviously, not familiar with your individual situation, but the more you automate, it means that you only have to make that decision once, and then it stays made. And you don’t have to keep re-deciding, “Oh, am I going to put more money in my 401(k) this paycheck?” The decision’s made, it’s done, and it’s automated for you and taken care of.

The next component of succeeding here in this process of committing to the plan and executing on it is a component of FOMO, which is delaying gratification. And there’s an interesting quote that we found around this from Max Weber, who wrote “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.” This I found fascinating. I hadn’t ever thought of it from this angle.

“There’s an oppression social scientist, and his name is Max Weber, and he published material based on his study of the more modern economic system known as capitalism. He titled his thesis ‘The Protestant Ethic.’ He maintained that one of the main contributions to the great success of capitalism is delayed gratification, the idea of looking ahead towards greater reward than going for that which is available now.”

Now, this is interesting. It’s almost a little bit hard to understand at first because we think, “Well, capitalism, that just means companies are selling and we should just buy, buy, buy. That’s capitalism.” Capitalism, at its core, is about people delaying gratification, spending their money on what they need, but then investing in ways and holding assets in ways that they can grow in value over time. And capitalism is about building businesses.

I know every business owner entrepreneur I know that started a business, they went without salary. They went without, sometimes, shelter, where they were living in their cars in a process of building something that they knew would ultimately be worth more somewhere down the road, and made a lot of sacrifices in the short term. Capitalism is, or I should say, at the very heart of capitalism is this concept of delayed gratification, and we need to apply it to make our marriages successful with money.

Also, we need to cast out of our mind the concept that we don’t need to put much effort in in order to succeed with money, especially in marriage. It’s hard work. We need to accept the fact and embrace the fact that this takes hard work. We have to meet, we have to discuss, we have to continue to drive toward alignment, and we have to work on our plan, and then execute on our plan together. So, we’ve got to get rid of that idea that this is easy or that it’s not going to take effort. Accept it, and own it, and make it a priority.

You also need to be willing to invest time into the process, and you also need to be willing to make those difficult decisions and stick with them. And sometimes that means having difficult conversations. Sometimes that means giving up something that we’re a little hesitant to give up. But again, remember, all we’re doing is directing our financial resources toward our greatest priorities.

And so, we always can be re-evaluating, “Well, is that really a priority? Do I want to make this a priority over that priority?” We can always re-evaluate. But once you’ve decided and force ranked, and you’re set on that for a period of time, you have to be willing to say, “I need to make some tough decisions here, and I need to be willing to move forward with those tough decisions and be okay with them.”

And then, the last point is, then, as your life changes, you need to put the work and the effort in to iterate your plan. Sometimes, you’ve got to iterate your alignment around the plan. And ultimately, you’ve got to keep iterating your commitment so that it’s stronger and better all the way through, as life happens, as things happen, as things change.

We’re at an interesting point in my family right now where we have eight kids, and only six of them are living at home. And one of them is now at college. One of them is away on a mission for two years in Australia, so we don’t see him. But the one who’s at college now comes home and visits occasionally, and it’s actually kind of fun. It’s interesting when your kids become adults. And the financial requirements and commitments that we have to try to help him at this stage of his life versus earlier stages, and what he’s responsible for, we’re literally iterating our plan.

As I’m speaking to you right now, we are iterating our plan with what’s happening with our house, and what’s happening with our son and the rest of our kids that are still at home, and everything that goes with that. So, it’s worth the time, it’s worth the effort, and it keeps you aligned. It keeps everything moving forward so that you can accomplish those goals and dreams that you have for yourself.

So, there it is. This is Kick FOMO to the Curb, and crush it by getting in and executing on your plan and sticking to it based on all of your prioritization throughout your entire financial system.

I want to thank you for listening, especially to this five-part series. We’ve got another fun one. I won’t ruin it, but we’ve got a fun series coming up that my son and I have been doing some work on, and I’m excited about sharing some of that next content with you. But for now, many, many thanks to you for joining today. This is a wrap for Episode #45. Happy day.

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About the Podcast

Join Chief Financial Officer Ken Kaufman as he helps you track and hack your net worth. For those seeking financial independence, your net worth is one of the most significant measurements of success. Using his two decades of financial experience, Ken Kaufman helps you overcome your financial obstacles and look onward towards a better, brighter financial future.


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